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Drawing of the Dutch visit to Tongatapu


Drawing of the Dutch visit to Tongatapu

Gilsemans, Isaac

On January 20 1643 the expedition of Abel Tasman encountered two large islands. These were Tongatapu, which Tasman named Amsterdam and ‘Eua, which was named Middelburg. The expedition did not attempt to land at the latter island, but anchored at the northwest coast of Tongatapu. Here they would remain anchored for several days from 21st January until 23rd January. In contrast to the earlier events in New Zealand, this time the meeting was friendly and the Zeehaen and Heemskerck could finally restock their supplies of fruits, vegetables and livestock, especially fowls and hogs. There was not much water to obtain, however. For three days meetings took place, in which gifts were exchanged and bartering for goods took place. The Dutch mainly bartered linen cloth, nails, beads, knives and looking glasses for food supplies. The chief or king of the place was received on board, as well as many other Tonganese.-Isaac Gilsemans, supercargo on board the Zeehaen, drew the events of these days in Abel Tasman’s journal. He noted the various places, people in events with letters. ‘A’ shows the Dutch ships anchored at what they named Van Diemen’s Quay. ‘B’ are small Tonganese boats which approached the Dutch ships with gifts from the king. ‘C’ shows one of the local ships consisting of two boats connected to one another and its crew. ‘D’ is a local fishing ship and its crew. E shows how the Tonganese swam to the Dutch ships carrying ubi and coconuts. F is the place where the local king lived.

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Sources and literature

Posthumus Meyjes, De Reizen van Abel Janszoon Tasman en Franchoys Jacobszoon Visscher, ter nadere ontdekking van het Zuidland (Australië) in 1642 - 1644. (1919)